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Russian Investigators Say Military Plane Shot Down by Patriot Missile System

A projectile fragment purportedly found at the crash site of the Il-76 airlifter. Russian Investigative Committee

Russian investigators concluded Friday that two missiles launched from a U.S.-made surface-to-air system shot down a military transport plane near the Russian-Ukrainian border last week. 

Russia's Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said over 100 fragments of MIM-104A anti-aircraft missiles, as well as hundreds of body parts, were recovered from the crash site in the western Belgorod region. 

“It has been established that on Jan. 24, 2024, [Ukrainian] servicemen from the Liptsy settlement in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region attacked an Il-76 military transport aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces with two missiles using an anti-aircraft system,” the law enforcement body said.

Its statement was accompanied by a video showing investigators inspecting the fragments.

“An expert analysis concluded that the fragments’ design features, geometric characteristics and markings are elements of the MIM-104A anti-aircraft guided missile of the U.S. Patriot system, developed by the Raytheon and Hughes corporations and manufactured by Raytheon.” 

In a separate statement, the Investigative Committee said that more than 670 body parts were recovered from the crash site.

“Genetic examination results made it possible to conclude unambiguously that the body fragments belonged to six crew members, three military police officers and 65 Ukrainian servicemen who died when the plane crashed,” it said.

On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin said it had “definitely been established” that the Il-76 transport plane was shot down by missiles fired from a Patriot anti-aircraft system.

Ukraine has not confirmed or denied its involvement in the crash.

While Moscow has called for an international investigation into the incident, it has yet to take concrete steps that would allow for such an investigation to take place, and the findings revealed by Russian law enforcement on Thursday have not been independently verified. 

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